Petzold: Books, a thing of the past?

Columnist Megan Petzold explains why books are more beneficial than other reading mediums.

Columnist Megan Petzold explains why books are more beneficial than other reading mediums.

Megan Petzold, Columnist

I have been a reader all my life. I have read everything from young adult literature to textbooks and classics required for AP English. When the Kindle first came out, I asked my mom if I could have it for Christmas. Unfortunately, she did not come through. Santa, however, must have heard me begging my mother for this digital, pocket-sized library.  

As experimental as I am with reading platforms, audiobooks are something I am still struggling to get into.  

While they provide a great outlet for multitasking and knowledge intake, personally, I have yet to be able to use audio to immerse myself in fictional, complicated worlds. 

According to, “listening to books activates the part of the brain responsible for language processing and reading a book activates more areas responsible for visual processing, both activities engage semantic processing of information in the same areas of the brain. This means that audiobooks and traditional books can both expand your knowledge, improve your memory, and sharpen your mental faculties in largely the same way.”  

One of the main reasons people get so invested in books revolves around escapism – escaping the worlds we currently live in to walk in the shoes of someone else. Maybe someone who is braver, more adventurous, more magical – whatever it may be. 

As proved by Speechify, we see that audiobooks claim to have the same immersive experience that is created while reading. However, audiobooks seem to lack the same level of visual processing that reading a physical book has. 

Without the aspect of visuals and separation from the world, you are just consuming more information. I, for one, would eventually feel as though my hobby is becoming something akin to school.  

Audiobooks are a fantastic way to read while allowing you to get a particular task done. For those who can multitask, I totally understand the intake of information while still being productive. However, the reason I choose reading as a hobby is because I can take an hour away from my phone and everything else, and just focus on the book I’m reading. 

I can talk about the effects seen from reading physical books based on experience, but what is actually happening, and how can it positively impact an individual? This article interviewed Dr. Kristen Willeumier about the actual scientific benefits of reading physical books.

“Reading is a cognitively engaging task that requires higher-level cognitive processing integrating written information and language comprehension,” Dr. Willeumier said. “A consistent reading practice strengthens your ability to communicate and will improve your vocabulary, reasoning, concentration, and critical thinking skills while enhancing brain network connectivity.” 

With all these benefits one can take into their day-to-day life, who wouldn’t want to read? 

Even though I spend my years constantly tracking books finished, pages read and titles tackled, it has a different satisfaction being able to visualize the sheer volume of books completed. This, however, can be unrealistic simply because of the space physical books take up, the cost of purchasing copies of the books you wish to read and the unfortunate reality that one may not reread every book they have read. 

Amazon provided a great solution to most of these problems by releasing the Kindle. The Kindle provides visual reading into one tablet, by which the books are extremely discounted and virtually delivered.  

On the other hand, audiobooks, from what I have seen, are the same if not more expensive than physical book copies. While they do take up less space and potentially take less time to complete, they are costly and unlikely to be revisited, especially if you’re going for quantity.  

The debate really comes down to if you are retaining and enjoying the books you’re listening to. According to, “some cite studies that have shown people who listen to books retain less than those who read them, which is bound up with how tempting it is to do other things while listening.” 

It makes sense. With the world moving at such a fast pace, why not increase the speed with which we consume and process information too?  

The reason why I enjoy reading books is because I have the chance to slow down and become enveloped in something new and otherwise unattainable.  

At the end of the day, do what makes you happy. As we previously saw from the Speechify quote, reading in any form will improve your memory, expand your knowledge, and assist with many other functions. From there, the choice is yours.